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House panel expects corporate tax cut bill within two weeks

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A HOUSE BILL providing for a corporate income tax cut and the rationalizing of incentives is expected to be filed later this month, its chair said.

“Give me two weeks… before two weeks definitely,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dakila Carlo E. Cua told reporters on Monday.

However Mr. Cua said that he has no details on the bill, as he is awaiting more data from the Finance department.

The Department of Finance (DoF) submitted the second tax reform package to Congress on Jan. 16, and hopes to have the bill approved by mid-year ahead of its implementation in 2019.

The measure seeks to gradually cut corporate income tax rates to 25% from 30% currently to match those of the Philippines’ Southeast Asian competitors, while withdrawing fiscal incentives from firms that do not need them.

Package 2 is not the only reform measure to be discussed this year under the DoF’s comprehensive tax reform program.

The committee is currently discussing Package 1B — the follow-up package for Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) — which includes the general and estate tax amnesty, a relaxation of the bank secrecy law, and a hike in the motor vehicle user charge.

Mr. Cua said that the committee does not need to approve Package 1B first before filing the succeeding reform proposal.

“Obviously package 1B comes before Package 2. But we don’t need to do that, we can do simultaneous consultations,” he said.

The constitution requires that all tax laws originate from the House of Representatives, although the Senate can hold parallel public hearings without formally approving such measures until after the House does so.

The DoF also plans to submit this month another follow-up to the second tax reform package called Package 2+, which raises tobacco, alcohol, and mining taxes further while removing value-added tax exemptions for coal and casinos.

The department also said that it wants to submit to Congress its proposal for the third and fourth reform packages that involve rationalizing property and passive income taxes, respectively.

Mr. Cua said that it will be “very challenging” to take on the measures altogether under his committee.

“It’s very challenging. We have to take up many things at the same time,” he said, but responded in the affirmative when asked if the DoF’s timetable is doable. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan